Finnian Burnett

Author, Educator, Cat Person

I’ve long held that what we do on the first of the year sets the tone for the rest. To that end, I always try to spend the first day of each year reading, writing, moving my body, talking to and kissing my wife, and cuddling with the cat.

The first book on my list for this year was Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. I randomly lucked into taking a workshop with this author and because of that, decided to read one of his books. I came in with no expectations and no prior experience with his writing. I’m putting the review that I left on Goodreads below. (Amazon rejected it for language. I might try to clean it up and resubmit) I would love to hear your thoughts if you end up reading this or if you have read it before.

Wow. Seriously, skip this review and just read this book.

Damn this book. It’s not a just a horror book. It’s not just a crime novel. It’s not just a deep dive into insanity and a chilling horror. It’s not just about the way grief, violence, and lifelong oppression live on bodies. It’s not just insight into what makes people do the horrific things they do. It’s not just an invitation to look at your own life and realize your comfort is because of the luck of place of birth and nothing else. It’s all these things and my brain barely had time to rest from one chapter before moving onto the next. Iglesias captures the inner lives of so many different people in various stages of life, grief, desolation, and shame and he does it so deftly, I believe each character as much as the last. Some scenes almost broke me. “La Bruja” was always bone-chilling and brutal. I stopped for a break after each appearance, but I was too involved to stay away.

I spent this entire book either saying, “Holy shit!” or “What the fuck just happened?” and being torn between wanting to slam the book down because it was so evocatively written, it made me physically uncomfortable, and unable to slam the book down because it was evocatively written, I couldn’t stop reading.

I read some sections with my mouth hanging open the entire time and some I read holding my breath. Reading some scenes made my fingers hurt.

The reader gets to occasionally float through the book on the lyrical language before being stabbed in the face with reality over again – it’s a hard read because it’s so real and also unreal. It’s an easy read because it is so beautifully written.

What the hell with the ending? How could it end there? How could it not? It was perfect and horrible all at once. But… Some things ended so badly. And some things left me with more questions than answers. And why did the author allow me the briefest hope that something might turn out okay for that one character before slamming the door on me. The injustice of it all sucks so bad. Just like life sometimes.

Listen. It’s that good. It’s really that good. I can’t pin down exactly what I want to say about this book because it’s not like anything I’ve read before. I don’t know how else to describe it. I loved it and hated it like you would love and hate someone who wrecked you to the soul and made you thank them for it after. I want everyone I know to read it, even the ones who can’t possibly appreciate it as much as I did.

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